The Beatles song that saw John Lennon criticise McCartney’s vocals

John Lennon and Paul McCartney

From the start, John Lennon was critical of the majority of his work with The Beatles. Since the iconic band’s breakup, Lennon became known to particularly harsh on any of the Fab Four’s greatest hits, even spitting bile at his own compositions. Out of all the wonderful songs written by the band, Lennon was particularly disappointed with one due to a weak vocal performance.

However, Lennon was always self-conscious about his voice when he was a member of The Beatles. For the majority of their career together, Lennon insisted on having every single vocal take double-tracked because he was uncomfortable singing with only one voice on the final product.

While Lennon was becoming more comfortable in his own skin near the end of the group’s run, the band’s plan to record Abbey Road never appealed to him. Lennon praised songs like ‘Come Together’ but found the side two medley on vinyl unnecessary compared to the rest.

Before reaching the grand finale, each member brings their A-game to their respective songs, with George Harrison shining on ‘Something’. Though every other member of The Beatles moaned through Paul McCartney’sMaxwell’s Silver Hammer,’ Lennon believed that ‘Oh! Darling’ had the potential to be far better than it was.

Going for the sound of the blues singers they idolised as children, McCartney uses a searing scream for the majority of the song, with a few painful shrieks near the end. Though Macca may have given it his all, Lennon felt it was never appropriate for McCartney’s tone.

When asked about the song later, Lennon expressed some regret for not singing it instead, recalling, “Oh! Darling was a great song of Paul’s that he did not sing particularly well. I always felt like I could’ve done it better—it was more my style than his. He wrote it, so what the hell, he’ll sing it. If he had any sense, he would have let me sing it.”

The end result didn’t please John Lennon. However, McCartney believed he captured the exact emotion he was looking for in the song. McCartney attempted several takes on the song because it portrays the perspective of a soulful singer. He aimed to give the impression that he had been singing it in a club for weeks.

McCartney later denied Lennon’s claim. He said, “I tried it every which way and finally got the vocal I was reasonably happy with.” It’s a bit of a belter, and if it comes across as lukewarm, you’ve completely missed the point. It was unusual for me; I usually try all of my vocal attempts in one day.”

This raw performance style reappeared later in McCartney’s solo catalogue. Songs such as ‘Maybe I’m Amazed’ and later ‘Call Me Back Again’ from Venus and Mars featured it as a staple. Although McCartney may have discovered a voice he didn’t know he possessed, the idea of Lennon singing this belter seems like a match made in heaven.


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